How to Find a Good SQL Server Recruiter

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In today’s professional world, more and more companies are outsourcing their hiring needs, and partnering with staffing companies to identify and provide talented employees, including technical resources. Therefore, it’s becoming more advantageous to work with a Recruiter to identify job opportunities, get your resume in front of a hiring Manager, line up interviews and job offers. Candidates are facing new challenges and frustrations as a result of working with Recruiters as liaisons for many of the jobs they want to consider, especially since the staffing industry is made up of thousands of organizations and experiences higher turnover than many other industries. Many candidates, especially ones who post their resumes, are getting flooded with voicemails and emails from lots of Recruiters. How can you identify a Recruiter who’ll be a good advocate for you and who’ll look out for your best interest?


Finding not only a good staffing firm, but a good Recruiter who’ll act as a true partner to you in your job search, is challenging. However, it’s certainly feasible to do so, and building a relationship with a quality Recruiter who’s concerned with both the best interests of their clients and the candidates they work with can be extremely beneficial. Here are my main suggestions for finding quality Recruiters:

Ask for referrals for SQL Server Recruiters

As in many areas of life, the best options often come from referrals. You can ask current or previous co-workers, members of your fellow technical community, or anyone else in your network if they know of a Recruiter they trust and would recommend.

Search LinkedIn for SQL Server Recruiters

Another tactic you could try is utilizing LinkedIn’s Advanced Search Feature to search for ‘Recruiter’ on LinkedIn within a mileage range. I honestly can’t think of a Recruiter I know who isn’t on LinkedIn. Using this method, you can really scope potential Recruiters out first, and assess their tenure, track record, and potentially their primary recruiting focus areas. Many Recruiters will advertise the typical skill sets and technologies they recruit for, and a lot of good Recruiters will have recommendations from candidates they’ve placed. If you come across a seemingly good Recruiter in an online search, you can connect with them and send a message or email introduction stating who you are, your status in the job market, your specialties, what you’re looking for, etc.

people search

***You can filter by your connections to get search results of Recruiters you’ve been connected with in the past!***

Meet SQL Server Recruiters Through Local Technical Communities

If a Recruiter is a regular attendee at your local SQL Server group meeting, the odds are that they probably recruit for jobs that use that technology. Also, it seems that most Recruiters who are involved in user groups are more tenured and knowledgeable, at least from personal experience. You can also ask the user group leaders if they have any Recruiters they recommend, as they likely have met and worked with several of them, since staffing companies typically are sponsors of their local user groups.

Monitor SQL Server Job Postings

Many staffing firms have Recruiters that not only focus on placing IT Professionals, but focus on a specific skill set, such as SQL Server Database Developers and DBAs. If you are registered to receive job postings from sources like Indeed, CareerBuilder, Monster or Dice, you might start to see trends in firms that are frequently looking for someone with your background, and potentially even start to see the same Recruiter’s name across multiple similar positions. Many Recruiters will even brand themselves as a ‘Database Recruiter.’ Take note of that person, and reach out to them, even if you’re not interested and/or qualified for that particular opening. Odds are that if they are a skill set aligned Recruiter who typically focuses on recruiting candidates similar to your background, they’ll likely get a position that would interest you at some point!

Open a brief dialogue with relevant Recruiters who reach out to you

As Recruiters contact you, you can be proactive in your “screening” of them, and then opening lines of communication with the ones who are local and credible. Chances are, you get several calls, emails and/or LinkedIn messages from Recruiters each month if you have your resume posted, are active via certain social media/networking channels like LinkedIn, or are in their database. As you meet, get an email or message from a local Recruiter, especially one who seems to understand your skill set, don’t be afraid to start the dialogue, even if you’re not actively looking. All of the quality Recruiters I know would welcome the opportunity to speak with you, and provide an introduction of who they are and how they might be able to help you if and when you decide to enter the job market. You can always initiate an introductory conversation that can be revisited later.

Additional Options to Find a SQL Server Recruiter

Some additional suggestions for identifying potential Recruiters include searching other Social Media channels, such as Twitter or MeetUp, using online search engines like Google (EX. “Database Recruiter” and Baltimore), meeting at job fairs and/or meeting at other technology related events, like code camps, conferences, etc.

If you know of a reputable IT staffing firm in your area, you could even call into the company and ask to be connected to the Recruiter who supports SQL Server openings.

Next Steps
  • Do you want to be proactive and start identifying a couple of Recruiters who could be good Partners to you if and when you decide to start your job search? If so, here are a couple suggestions!
    • Build relationships with good Recruiters as they contact you. If a Recruiter contacts you who appears to focus on partnering with Database professionals, or whatever skill set that aligns with your background, open a short dialogue with them and somehow save their information.
    • Setup an organizational method for keeping track of Recruiters you might want to work with. Whether it’s saving them as a contact in your phone (EX. Erin Smith, SQL Recruiter, ABC Company), having a ‘Recruiter’ folder in your email, saving their business cards in one place, using a ‘Contact Categorizer’ type application, etc. it’ll be extremely beneficial later on to find a way to efficiently keep track of quality Recruiters. I’ve been able to place several IT Professionals who’ve reached out to me years after I initially contacted them.
    • Sign up for job alerts. If you get emailed a job posting which has a Recruiter who’s labeled as a ‘Database’ or ‘SQL Recruiter,’ it’s probably worth adding that email/posting to your newly created ‘Recruiter’ folder in your Inbox!
    • Make 2-3 connections now via LinkedIn. If you have some free time and want to be proactive, search through LinkedIn, review some Recruiters profiles (including recommendations), and if any catch your eye, send them an invitation to connect. Remember, you can search for ‘Recruiter’ in your first degree connections later on when you enter the job market, so it doesn’t hurt to get connected now.
  • If you’re actively in the job market right now, here are some additional suggestions:
    • Ask for referrals from your network - You can get both names of potential staffing firms and the names of specific Recruiters.
    • Contact some of the “big players” in the IT staffing world - Call into a couple of the larger staffing firms who focus on placing IT professionals and simply ask to be connected to the Recruiter who works on your primary role.
    • Increase community involvement - Get involved in your local technical community/user group (this can provide some good job leads!) and ask other members for names of Recruiters they’d recommend.
    • Contact Recruiters who’ve reached out to you before - Go through emails you may have gotten in the past from Recruiters and reach back out to them.

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About the author
MSSQLTips author Erica Woods Erica Woods has nearly a decade in the IT staffing world, an MBA, and is a member of the Professional Association of Resume Writers and Career Coaches.

This author pledges the content of this article is based on professional experience and not AI generated.

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Comments For This Article

Friday, March 22, 2019 - 8:18:39 PM - jmoden Back To Top (79380)

All good tips on finding recruiters.  Thanks for posting the article.

I have to caution folks, though... the one time I actually needed a recruiter, several people highly recommended one local recruiter.  To make a much longer story shorter, I made it clear that I wasn't a person that worked with Oracle but they sent me on two interviews that patently required Oracle skills.  I don't know if it was the shop that didn't get it or if the human recruiter that I was assigned to didn't get it but that's not what I call a good recruiter.

The bottom line is that you sometimes can't tell if a recruiter is a "body shop" or someone actually trying to make both the client and the candidate happy until you start going on interviews.  If someone sends you to an interview for a job you're not going to like or requires skills you don't have, you should probably consider another recruiter.

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 3:25:54 PM - Erica Back To Top (32330)

Dave - it's understandable why you do that.  I've had numerous requests to wait to contact references until the individual is further along in the interview process.  In those cases, I'll often communicate to the hiring Manager that we haven't spoken to references yet.  In terms of making resume suggestions or enhancements, this is something each Recruiter seems to handle differently.  I've seen some Recruiters make suggestions to a candidate proactively, provide suggestions once triggered, make suggestions on their own and then forward to the candidate for their thoughts, etc... Either way, Recruiters should always get approval from the candidates they're working with to make changes to their resume.  Like with any profession, the quality of a Recruiter will differ depending on tenure, how customer-service oriented they are, competency level, and other skills.  In most cases, candidates seem to appreciate the advice and efforts related to helping improve their resume.  On the flip side, I'm sure there are plenty of folks that do not want anyone to touch their resume at all.  In that case, just setting the expectation that you don't want your resume altered or uploaded anywhere will hopefully help ensure it doesn't happen!

In terms of the follow up communication post 3 months, I don't know how to answer that.  I'm not sure why that would be a practice.  I've personally never heard of a firm that encourages poaching of each others candidates. 

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 12:39:40 PM - Dave Back To Top (32328)

...and unethical recruiters recruiting my references is why I do NOT give references to ANY recruiter until I've had at least a phone screen with the potential client to ensure I think there is a good fit.  I've been on the other side of the table too and I have no issue phone screening anyone before worrying about references.  Nowadays too many references are falsified anyway to be of any value.  The only thing I can conclude when a recruiter's NON-NEGOTIABLE policy is up-front references is that the recruiter wishes to recruit my references.  

As for modifying my mentioned spell checking, reformatting, and uploading into your database.  I'm really appalled that recruiters do the first two.  Why would you, as a recruiter, want to spell check and alter my resume to make it better?  You're still going to send the same candidate to the face-to-face aren't you?  Isn't this just lipstick on a pig?  More importantly, I've seen recruiters falsify resumes without the candidate knowing.  You should never ALTER a resume.  Definitely criticize and offer suggestions, which are always appreciated, but never alter.  I NEVER WORK WITH A RECRUITER WHO WILL ALTER MY RESUME WITHOUT MY APPROVAL, the exception being adding the recruiter's contact info/logo in place of my own (too many clients try to poach...there's sleazeballs everywhere).  

As for uploading to your database...I find this practice to be questionable at best.  Did you know that recruiting firms are bought out so those databases can be sold to job board aggregators?  Do you know the nightmare that causes a candidate who gets innundated with calls because a 10 year old resume just resurfaced on monster?  I've been placed by RecruiterA at LargeRecruitingCo and started having RecruiterB call me with other opporunities after 3 months.  Why 3 months?  Could it be because that is when RecruiterA got his commission so now RecruiterB is going to poach him?  Are RecruiterA and B poaching each other's placements to pad their commission checks?  A central candidate repo is always bad, but you should be asking permission before doing that.  Some of us don't want to be in a central repo where we are going to be called and harrassed daily by sleazeball recruiters.  

Friday, June 20, 2014 - 11:44:27 AM - Erica Woods Back To Top (32327)

Derek – I agree with you!  Whenever you’re actively in the job market and get contacted by a Recruiter for a job you’re interested in pursuing, you definitely want to partner with that individual!  This tip was more geared towards how to find and build long-term relationships with the skill-set focused Recruiters who typically would support job opportunities related to your background.  While many Recruiters do have a short-term focus (i.e. only contact you when they have something), there are some Recruiters out there that will remain in consistent communication and provide more value than just specific job leads.  These are the Recruiters, that if you can find through referrals or other means, that you should attempt to build a long-term relationship with!


Friday, June 20, 2014 - 11:42:43 AM - Erica Woods Back To Top (32326)

Dave – thanks for these suggestions!  I can definitely discuss in greater depth in a future tip.  Providing a resume in Word format is easier to spell check, reformat, and upload into the system most Recruiting companies use as their candidate central repository.  One suggestion I have here is that you request any Recruiter you work with to email you the copy of the resume they want to forward to any client Managers for your approval first!

Most companies will ask for references since speaking to at least 1-2 is part of the typical screening process.  I like to speak with at least 1 prior Manager for any candidates I’ll be forwarding on to a Client.  However, I’ve heard numerous times from folks in the Baltimore Technical Community (where I’m based), that some Recruiters tend to misuse References, such as calling them to see if they’re in the job market or as business leads. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 10:59:49 AM - Derek Colley Back To Top (32315)

Hi Erica, thanks for your article and these tips.  As a contractor in the UK, I do however often find that it's better to work with the recruiter offering the specific role I'm looking for at the right time - as I approach the end of a contract or feel that I would like to move on, I'll look through opportunities that present themselves rather than focussing on working with one specific recruiter and waiting for a call.  The reason for this is I find recruiters are my best friend - until they have no job to offer me, when suddenly they stop returning my calls.

Arguably then I'd say it's best to work with/to the job, not with/to a specific recruiter.  Would be interested to know your thoughts.


Thursday, June 19, 2014 - 8:51:57 AM - Dave Back To Top (32311)

I enjoy your tips.  Here are two suggestions for future posts:

  1. Why do recruiters always ask for a copy of my resume in Word format?  Is it because they are going to change my resume without telling me to "customize" it for their client?  This has happened to me.  Other times the recruiter has reformatted it, removed my blog address or other personal contact information.  Also, I've seen where they've attached their company's logo to the top of my resume.  If I add a copyright notice to my resume, isn't altering it then illegal?  This is sleazy.  
  2. Why do *some* recruiters ask for references before submitting you to candidates?  Some recruiters then try to recruit your references which is unethical.  
These are my two biggest gripes about recruiters.  

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